Form: A single to multi-stemmed shrub, or with pruning, a tree.
Lifespan: 50-150 years.
Leaf retention: Evergreen except will it will drop its leaves under three conditions:
before blooming (which does not happen every year), extreme drought, and cold temperatures below its
Growth rate: Slow. Supplemental water speeds growth.
Mature Size: 15-30' high and as wide.
Flowers: Pea-flower shaped, light purple wing petals with other petals being white or pink,
clustered on short shoots that grow from the middle of stems.
Bloom: Spring, after its leaves have dropped. This plant blooms less than half of all years in total.
Fruit: A short seed pod. The seeds are edible only after roasting.
Leaves: Tiny, oval, thick, bluish gray-green, paired leaflets. Each compound leaf has a pair
of thorns at its base. This plant provides medium shade.
Stems: Thorny. The wood is dense, heavy, sinks in water, and contains chemicals toxic to
Wildlife: It attracts bees and birds and is browsed by large mammals. It provides shade to smaller
plants and many animals in the desert.
Toxic / Danger: Thorns. Chemical-laden dust from wood cutting is a possible breathing hazard.
Origin: California, Arizona, and Mexico.
Cultivation and Uses
USDA hardiness zones: 9-11. Young trees are hardy to 25°F, older ones to 20°F.
Heat tolerant: Yes.
Drought tolerant: Yes.
Sun: Full sun.
Water after becoming established: Once every month or two during drought.
Soil: Well drained, dry, low in organic content, pH 6.6-8.5 (neutral to alkaline).
*Do not use a nitrogen fertilizer.
Prune: Clip lightly to shape and thin.
Litter: Leaf drop which is prevented by monthly watering during drought.
Uses: Ornamental, xeric garden.
This plant is a member of the Legume family (Leguminosae). It is a protected species and very long
lived — some specimens are centuries old. A few commercial varieties have been selected for
improved cold hardiness.
Do you have additional information or a different
experience for this plant that you would like to share?
Email email@example.com. All contributions
are welcome and appreciated.
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Latest update: February, 2019.